There's nothing quite like a Canadian summer.
Sure, the North American nation may get a little cold over the winter months, but when summer comes Canada truly shines.
Toronto residents Bravestation know this all too well, and decided to pen a summer anthem of their own.
'Up For You' is a crisp new wave pop melter, blessed with a chorus that will echo round your head for weeks. The band explain:
"We were excited to finally work with pros and compiled like 30+ electronic-based demos on our laptops in anticipation of recording with these guys, but in the last week of the writing process we started jamming as a band for the first time when the idea for 'Up For You' came to life. From all the songs they had to pick from, Michael and Jason chose the two that we wrote in the final couple of days as their favs after months of demoing…"
Tune in now.
Bombay Bicycle Club's Jack Steadman is associated with a certain type of music.
Finding fame in the indie-folk mould, the songwriter – still a teenager when he first enjoyed success, mind – he since grown to absorb some startlingly fresh influences.
New cut 'Grant Green' is named in honour of the legendary jazz guitarist, and features a scorching vocal from the Screaming Eagle Of Soul himself Charles Bradley.
Out now, it's the moment when Jack Steadman re-emerges as Mr Jukes in the most spectacular fashion.
'Grant Green' was born in a Tokyo kissaten, with Jack explaining “they’re like a coffee shop or bar where the owner plays you his record collection and you sit there all afternoon, just listening. I was there with my notebook, secretly writing everything down”.
“It was all over in about an hour. Charles kinda exited the room with the chair spinning and I was left wondering what just happened! He’s a bundle of energy: he went at it full throttle and then I never saw him again. It was great!”
Tune in now.
Mr Jukes' debut album 'God First' will be released on July 14th. Tracklisting:
Angels / Your Love (ft. BJ The Chicago Kid)
Somebody New (ft. Elli Ingram)
Grant Green (ft. Charles Bradley)
Leap of Faith (ft. De La Soul & Horace Andy)
From Golden Stars Comes Silver Dew (ft. Lalah Hathaway)
Tears (ft. Alexandria)
When Your Lights Go Out (ft. Lianne La Havas)
Sensible J is one of Australian hip-hop's most refreshingly creative figures, someone for whom rules are there to be broken.
The Melbourne artist has gained an international reputation, in part due to his ability to continually side-step what's fashionable for what feels right.
New cut 'Fire Sign' is a soulful hip-hop melter, with the funky production recalling some of Dilla's donuts without ever aping the Detroit kingpin's style.
Joined by REMI and Sampa The Great, this is a stellar tri-force, a true meeting of minds that elevates Sensible J's own style to a different levels.
A superb summer-fresh joint, you can check out 'Fire Sign' below.
Spelles knows not to let anyone get in her way.
She's an emphatic, individual talent, someone who can push past boundaries with just one simple sung note.
New cut 'Dead In The Water' underlines this. The powerful call out of each line is driven by a knowledge of the blues, by a sense of gospel music.
Yet the arrangement is electronic, something geared towards the future, a future in which – seemingly – obstacles will be removed and barriers torn down.
“This song is about rising up, taking the reigns, and not letting anything or anyone stand in your way,” shares Spelles, “There is so much power (and capability) that lives within each of us, and sometimes we don’t recognize it or are unable to access it, until it becomes a necessity for survival.”
Clash has first dibs on the video – watch it now.
In just half an hour, Raye manages to light up a room, without even being in it.
Nineteen-year-old Rachel Keen, at the end of a phone line, is frank and honest — and makes no bones about her goal of becoming a “massive artist”. Even with these Rihanna-sized aspirations, however, Clash is acutely aware that the voice on the other end of the line belongs to a normal girl from Croydon; one who just happens to be able to craft immensely cool pop music. What Raye beams down the phone is her realness, a superstar ambition without a superstar ego — representing a new breed of pop-star, armed solely with total commitment to creating music with mass appeal, and never at the cost of integrity.
Raye reliably informs us that she’s had a wonderful day on set with Clash. “I wanted to do my thing, but be flexible with it. Comfortable, but bold, and fun.” Aesthetically, she subverts the typical nature of her line of work, opting often for a boy’s athletic sweatshirt. “If I don't say what I want, or if I put on these clothes I don’t like, then it's just an act,” she explains, as we ease into the conversation. “I’m really, really bad at trying to make someone believe something that isn’t true… you know what I mean?”
Back before Gaga’s meat dresses and Britney’s head-shaving, pop music was a form made to be representative of youth. Young people were the ones spending their pocket money on singles, and would do so on music that spoke to them personally — albeit on quite a general level. It was about soft rebellion and soda pop romances. It was rarely revolutionary, but for the most part, it had real life at its core.
Pop lost its way pretty quickly, and a great deal of mainstream music was caught in the vice-like grip of capitalism, and at the cost of genuine songwriting. It became formulaic and often, like cheap air freshener, unable to mask the distinctly clinical and calculated aroma of the boardroom.
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Raye knows what it takes to make a good pop song. Growing up in the south London suburbs, she would listen to the contemporary greats, namely Nelly Furtado, and Daniel and Natasha Bedingfield “on a walkman, on a loop. I was about eight or nine years old, just dancing in my living room.” Like a typical kid growing up in the early noughties, a catchy hook was paramount, and even though her tastes matured and diversified as her parents put her onto Jill Scott and the soul/jazz greats of the ‘40s and ‘50s, the art of the anthemic evidently stuck with her. It wasn’t the glitz or the glamour which attracted her, but a compelling attraction to good songwriting; “Anything quite bold lyrically. I just fell in love with that, and I love telling stories in a song.” Who can deny that Natasha Bedingfield’s inspirational banger ‘Unwritten’ was anything but a classic of its time?
At the start of 2017, there were a grand total of four songs in the UK Top 40 either penned or performed by Raye. Each of them with collaborators that are stylistically distinct, but connected, each able to bury their hooks and melody lines deep into the short-term memory of even a first-time listener.
She wrote the majority of Charli XCX and Lil Yachty’s post-post-party anthem ‘After The Afterparty,’ earned writing credit on MØ and Snakehips’ electro-scandi-pop hit ‘Don’t Leave’ and provided lead vocals on two enormous dance singles; Jax Jones’ ‘You Don’t Know Me’ and ‘By Your Side’ by Jonas Blue. All four are a testament to the genre-fluid nature of modern pop, and how producers are able to borrow from less commercially driven scenes (Jax Jones lifted the melody line from 2005’s ‘Body Language’ by M.A.N.D.Y. and Booka Shade) and create something more appealing for a mass audience.
With pride, Raye explains: “Some people think [‘pop’] is a dirty word, but really it’s just popular music, and really that’s all I want to make. I want to make music that everybody’s singing and everyone’s playing…”
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A few years ago, this would have been an unpopular opinion, but it isn’t one that Raye has formed recently. She tells us about her two-year stint at the prestigious BRIT School and how, surprisingly, her appreciation for mainstream hit-making wasn’t shared by her classmates. “I knew that I wanted to be a massive successful singer, but it was almost like, in that school, it was frowned upon and it was looked down upon,” she recalls. “What was really difficult and complicated for me was that I started feeling depressed and anxious that my tastes were changing because of the people that I was around — because I wanted to be cool.”
She uploaded her first single, ‘Hotbox’, to Soundcloud in 2014, written a few years prior to the time she was contemplating leaving BRIT. It’s a song with a slow, steadily evolving future-R&B beat, which belies its far less stylish subject matter of getting uncomfortably high from secondhand smoke at a house party. She recalls how people at the school judged it to be almost infantile, but that it ended up being the demo that secured her record deal with Polydor after Olly Alexander, the lead singer of Years & Years, said in at interview with Attitude Magazine that it was “the last track [he] and [his] boyfriend had sex to”.
In a weird way, that’s really what Raye is after. The competitive nature of BRIT’s fame academy didn’t suit her honest and laid-back style, far more open to influences that can be heard in taxis and shopping centres, not just Shoreditch coffee shops and Vintage Kilo Sales. The day after our conversation, we get a text from Raye telling us about her new single, which she previously was yet to decide on. “‘The Line’”, she writes, “is/was literally the story of my life.” It’s another typically relatable song about waiting in a nightclub queue, surrounded by people looking to kill the vibe.
Her message sums it up: “We can have a wicked time without being in your ‘stupid’ club,” and in a much wider sense — this is what Raye is all about. She’s redefining pop music to reflect her own individualism, simply by refusing to sing, dress or act like anything other than her authentic self. She has her career completely in her own hands, and is part of a tale with all the makings of a girl-next-door to superstar classic.
Raye is a Croydon girl with global aspirations, but one who’s playing the game on her own terms — making all the right moves to lead the new vanguard of pop. In the words of old Nat Bedingfield, the rest is still unwritten.
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'In Line' is out now.
Words: Robbie Russell
Photography: Sophie Mayanne
Styling: Lee Trigg
Hiatus is the long-running project of Cyrus Shahrad, a musician whose roots straddle both Britain and Iran.
Reflecting both UK club culture and his heritage in the Middle East, the producer swathes his electronics with melodies that nod towards Iranian tradition.
It's an intriguing mix, one that has resulted in an enormous sense of emotional breadth and range – and one that resonates with a lot of different people.
New album 'All The Troubled Hearts' arrives on June 2nd, with Hiatus working alongside a small cast of hand-picked guests.
New cut 'Celestial' airs first on Clash, and it features some haunting guest vocals from Charlene Soraia.
Reminiscent of Ghostly International's output but with a more European-inclined viewpoint, Hiatus' deft production creates a web of sound around Charlene's vocal.
Cyrus explains: "I met Charlene a few years ago while playing keys in a band. She was part of an otherwise forgettable four-act night in some dingy Earl’s Court club, and arrived on stage with a guitar, a pile of hand-drawn EPs and a plastic bottle of lemonade. I fell under her spell immediately, entranced by her voice, her kaleidoscopic guitar playing, her songs at once beautiful and haunted by an acid-warped eeriness."
"We’ve been friends ever since, but 'Celestial' is our first collaboration; it’s a love story set at the end of the world, a requiem for a dying sun, and a celebration of the fact that, against all odds, we were here to see it."
Tune in now.
Anna Of The North is set to release debut album 'Lovers' on September 8th.
The duo link Norway and New Zealand, with their artful pop spreading across the world since the partnership's inception three years ago.
The pair – Anna Lotterud and Brady Daniell-Smith – have confirmed plans for their debut album, with 'Lovers' set to drop in September.
The title cut is online now, and it's sheer Anna Of The North – poised and poignant pop music, the dappled production is set against a killer vocal.
Brady describes the song as “speaking of the emptiness of the unrealistic promises we make to each other at the start of relationships. Those promises that we can't possibly keep like ‘I'll always be there for you’ and ‘I'll never leave'.’"
Anna explains; “The song describes that point when you feel alone and you're reaching out but they're not reaching back. Maybe you could get through to them if they just let you in, but the promises they made are broken.”
Tune in now.
HVNNIBVL is the pop alter ego of John J. Hannibal, a vital talent from Buffalo, New York.
The pop polymath wrote, recorded, produced, and performed his debut album in 2015, a feat that immediately marked him out as someone to watch.
A vivid, idiosyncratic talent, HVNNIBVL is gearing up for the summer season with new cut 'On & On'.
Out shortly – order it HERE – it's laced with fluorescent colours and plastic textures.
The piercing vocals are filtered through some refreshing effects, while the rattling percussion nods towards dancehall sounds. Tune in now.
The music of Turtle seems to conjure intense yet unique atmospheres.
The Glasgow producer released two EPs in 2014 and 2015, two collections of dark electronic hymns that freely played by their own rules.
Loosely techno in its more muscular sense, each track seemed to come smothered in darkness, shrouded in twilight.
New album 'Human' is incoming, and it was born from a period of darkness in the Scottish artist's life.
Making the record was a cathartic experience, as he freely admits: “Through my music, I found the way to let the light in…”
Clash is able to share new cut 'Calculate', with the murky echoes of those metallic melodies sitting against powerfully complex percussion.
Vocals fade into the background, with Turtle conjuring a sense of the eerie with only a few disparate sounds.
Tune in now.
Chris Reardon spent most of his life in Hong Kong, before deciding to move to London.
Entranced by the city's music heritage the songwriter absorbed sounds by The Beatles, Led Zeppelin and more, before developing his own voice.
Folk-hewn and tender, his softly sculpted vignettes have a bittersweet feel.
New single 'Bends' was produced by Chris himself, and it's the end of a lengthy creative process.
“I knew I had something good but could never finish it”, he explains. Written over a two-year period, it was “one of those songs you keep returning to, hoping lightning will strike.”
Lightning certainly struck. Clash has nabbed a full acoustic session – check out this emphatic performance below.